NDP Leader pushes to pass Islamic Heritage Month Bill in Legislature

This morning Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was disappointed when her Liberal colleagues in the Ontario Legislature failed to pass Bill 23, the Islamic Heritage Month Act 2016.

“This was an opportunity for us, as representatives of the people of Ontario, to come together to take action on the rising prevalence of Islamophobia and hate-motivated crime in our Province,” noted Horwath. “Celebrating Islamic culture, history and the contributions of people of Islamic heritage to our society is an important step that we need to take. Learning about each other and celebrating our diversity is a meaningful and effective way to combat hatred.”

London-Fanshaw MPP Teresa Armstrong, who introduced the Bill earlier this week, added that the NDP will not give up the fight to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month.

“I am very dedicated to seeing this Bill become law and I know Andrea is too,” said Armstrong.  “We will do whatever it takes to see October become Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario.”

The Ontario NDP has been working diligently to find ways to address racism, from calling for an end to arbitrary, race-based police street checks (carding), to pushing the Liberal government to finally establish the Anti-Racism Directorate.

“This is about building a better future for all of our children,” continued Horwath.  “We have to make sure that every member of the Muslim community, and every Ontarian, feels safe and secure here in our Province. That’s the only way Ontario can reach its potential.  All Ontarians should be able to learn about and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Ontarians of Islamic Heritage have made throughout our province’s history – and the tremendous contributions that thecommunity is making to build a better future for all of us.”

NDP Private Members Bill on Sexual and Domestic Violence to be reintroduced

NDP Women’s Issues critic Peggy Sattler, MPP for London West, was joined today by representatives of academia, labour and the community to announce the reintroduction of her Private Member’s Bill to provide survivors of sexual violence or domestic violence with up to 10 days of paid leave, and reasonable unpaid leave. The bill also allows for workplace accommodations and requires all employers to provide mandatory workplace training on domestic and sexual violence. 

The need for paid leave for survivors of domestic violence was raised repeatedly by groups and individuals during hearings of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment and public input on Bill 132. The issue was also highlighted in submissions made to the Changing Workplaces Review and is referenced in the Special Advisors’ Interim Report, which identifies paid domestic violence/sexual violence leave as one of the options that must be considered.

The bill would entitle survivors to up to 10 days of paid leave to obtain specific services related to the violence:

Wynne government needs a strategy to face the opioid crisis: NDP

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, Ontario NDP health critic, demanded the Wynne government take action to stop the rising number of deaths in Ontario as a result of fentanyl and opioid overdoses.

Despite the rise in tragic deaths in Ontario, as a result of fentanyl and opioid overdoses, the Wynne Liberal government still has no real-time monitoring of such deaths to assist physicians and public health officials trying to deal with this health crisis,” said Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt. 

NDP MPP Armstrong introduced bill to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario

NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic, MPP Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe) introduced a bill in the legislature today to establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in Ontario, as part of the NDP’s plan to fight islamophobia. 

“New Democrats recognize that increasing islamophobia is a reality in Ontario, and through this bill we are taking action to fight it through education and engagement,” Armstrong said.  “The provincial government can help support the fight against ignorance and hatred by promoting dialogue, conversation, questions, and knowledge about Ontario’s Islamic heritage.  Everyone deserves to feel safe and accepted for who they are in our province.”

Liberal approach to project-based mental health funding on campuses is failing Ontario students: NDP MPP Peggy Sattler

An alarming report released by the Ontario University and College Health Association confirms that there is a mental health crisis in Ontario postsecondary institutions, with 2016 survey results showing that student mental health has worsened since 2013.  Addressing the report, the President of the Association said, “lives are at stake.”

People need action now to improve social housing in Toronto: NDP

During Question Period today, Ontario New Democrats called for immediate action from the provincial government to build and repair social housing in Toronto, as families face a growing crisis of affordable housing in our province’s largest city. NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale—High Park) says the province is at a tipping point, and without action, life will only get harder for future generations.

Wynne government risked public safety by opening Nipigon River bridge despite knowing it had structural problems: NDP

Today during Question Period, Michael Mantha, NDP northern development critic, and MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, demanded answers from the Wynne government about why it endangered public safety by allowing the Nipigon bridge to open despite previous knowledge of structural problems.

“Three months before the Nipigon River bridge failed, inspectors discovered a problem with the bearing assembly. This is the part that holds the bridge to the foundation. This is the part that failed,” Mantha explained.  “The contractors proposed a solution. The engineers told the Ministry there was a still a problem. But the Ministry approved it anyway. And then didn’t install the parts.”


NDP wants to make life a little easier for post-secondary grads in Ontario

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced that an NDP government would immediately eliminate interest from Ontario student loans as a first step in solving the student debt crisis in the Province.

“The government should not be making a profit off of the fact that students in Ontario need to take out loans to afford postsecondary education, it’s just not right” said Horwath. 

The NDP leader was in St. Catharines today meeting with students at Brock University to discuss the high debt load that many of them will face upon graduation.

“This is a first step and an important one,” noted Horwath.  “Insurmountable student debt delays important life milestones for young people such as buying a car, owning a home, starting a family or starting a business.  This makes student debt not only a burden for the people who carry it, but on the provincial economy as a whole.”

Ontario is one of the most expensive provinces to access a college or university education. Since 2009, Ontario has had the highest average undergraduate and graduate tuition fees in the country.  The average debt load for a young person with a four year undergraduate degree is $28,000, for a post-graduate degree, its $35,000.

“Ontario can be a great place to live, but it’s getting harder to build a good life here, especially for young people,” said Horwath.  “We need a government that is focused on solutions, on taking action for the people of Ontario.  An NDP government will immediately eliminate interest from Ontario student loans as a first step in making sure that young people in this province have the opportunity to succeed.”

Les néo-démocrates célèbrent l’avenir francophone de l’Ontario à l’occasion de la Journée franco-ontarienne:

déclaration de la chef du NPD, Andrea Horwath

<<Lors de la  Journée franco-ontarienne les Néo-démocrates célèbrent fièrement plus de 400 ans d’histoire francophone de notre province.  Nous honorons la contribution économique et culturel continue des francophones de l’Ontario  au tissue de notre société.

Les Néo-démocrates croient que les droits constitutionnels des francophones de l’Ontario doivent être respectées.  Nous allons continuer à demander l’égalité d’accès dans toute la province aux services publics essentiels comme la santé et l’éducation pour les francophones de l’Ontario, y compris l’accès aux études postsecondaires dans une université francophone autonome.

Ensemble, nous commémorons notre heritage francophone, et nous embrassons notre avenir francophone.>>

Fighting Islamophobia through Education, Engagement

Today Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced her party’s intention to introduce a Bill in the Legislature that will establish October as Islamic Heritage Month in the Province of Ontario.

“We have to do more to tackle discrimination, prejudice and Islamophobia,” said Horwath.  “This is an opportunity to recognize that increasing Islamophobia is a reality in Ontario, and to take action to combat it.”

NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic MPP Teresa Armstrong will be introducing the bill, bringing the Province in line with the Federal government and local school boards-including the TDSB-which have already taken this step.

Statement from Ontario NDP Transportation Critic Wayne Gates

Engineering reports on Nipigon Bridge failure show lack of government oversight.

Ontario NDP Transportation Critic Wayne Gates issued the following statement:

“The upshot of these independent engineering studies is that the Nipigon Bridge failed because the Liberal government didn’t take their project oversight responsibilities seriously. Any engineering and design installation failures should have been caught before the Ministry of Transportation opened the Nipigon Bridge to passenger traffic in the first place.

 The buck stops with the Minister of Transportation. Unfortunately, by keeping Ontarians in the dark for more than 8 months, he has seriously eroded public confidence in the safety of Ontario’s road and bridge network. Without any further delay, Minister Del Duca must tell Ontarians exactly how much his government’s failures will cost Ontarians, whether the repairs could end up costing us more than $12 million, and what concrete steps he will take to make sure that such a dangerous lack of government oversight never happens again.”‎

Toward the Université de l’Ontario français

The MPP for Nickel Belt, and NDP critic for Francophone affairs, France Gélinas, re-introduced a bill today to create the Université de l’Ontario français - a Franco-Ontarian University.  Her previous bill passed second reading on November 19, 2015, but was lost when the Wynne Liberal government prorogued the legislature on September 9, 2016. 

NDP demands Premier answer questions about Grassy Narrows mercury clean-up

During Question Period today, France Gélinas, Ontario NDP Indigenous relations critic, demanded the Premier answer questions about what her government has done to fulfill its promise to address mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows.

“It took Japanese researchers, not this government, to provide the only public data on the health effects of mercury poisoning on the people of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong,” Gélinas said.  “You committed $300,000 in May to immediately begin field work.  Will you show the local people there what’s been done, how much has been spent, what samples have been taken so far, because we have found nothing.”   

Joint statement on report showing effects of mercury poisoning on people of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations

“The study conducted by Japanese researchers clearly shows that people from Grassy Narrows and White Dog (Wabaseemoong) First Nations are suffering the effects of long-term exposure to mercury.

It took researchers from half way across the world to undertake this serious study, while the Wynne government continues to stall on taking action, putting families and the future of these communities at risk. People expected better from this premier, and they’re disappointed. Every day the government fails to act, things get worse for people in the Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations, and for their children. 

New Democrats believe now is the time for the government to act in cooperation with the Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations, and clean up the English-Wabigoon River so the water is safe to drink, and the fish is safe to eat.”

Peter Tabuns - Ontario NDP Environment Critic
France Gélinas - Ontario NDP Indigenous Affairs Critic

Rural Ontarians deserve better: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and the NDP Caucus, celebrated rural life and the contributions of Ontario's agricultural producers at the annual International Plowing Match and Rural Expo. Horwath said that rural Ontario families deserve access to better healthcare and education, relief from rising hydro bills and meaningful investment in rural jobs and the agricultural sector. 

Wynne Liberals ignoring environmental disaster in Gogama

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas called on the Wynne government to stop ignoring the ongoing environmental disaster in Gogama and order CN to remove all of the oil from the water.

 “The people of Mattagami First Nation and Gogama were promised that their natural environment would be brought back to what it was like before the derailment. We were promised clean water. The water is not clean. We can see the oil. We can smell the oil. We can see dead fish everywhere. The environment was not like that before. It was beautiful,” Gélinas said.

Ontarians can’t count on the Liberal government

During Question Period this morning, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pushed Premier Kathleen Wynne to explain why her government is not focusing on the priorities that matter to the people of Ontario.

“People deserve better opportunities for good jobs, a life they can afford and the services they can count on,” said Horwath during Question Period. 

The NDP Leader highlighted the unaffordable cost of hydro and childcare in particular as priorities Ontarians want to see action on but that the Wynne Liberals have no plan to address. 

Throne speech does not go far enough to lower hydro costs, improve healthcare and support good jobs: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that the throne speech must commit to actions that will make a real difference in people’s lives when it comes to hydro costs, healthcare, and jobs.  It’s now clear that the Liberal plan does not go far enough to in any of these key areas. 

“We’re at a tipping point in this province. In today’s throne speech New Democrats hoped to see big changes so that the next generation will have more opportunity and a better future.” said Horwath. “Today’s throne speech could have done so much more to give immediate relief to families, to improve the quality of work in this province, to stop the sell-off of Hydro One, and to make sure everyone has health care they can count on. After listening to the Throne Speech, I can tell you New Democrats will keep working for the real action that people need to see.”

HST was added to Ontario residential electricity bills by the Liberals in 2010. Prior to that there was no provincial sales tax on electricity. Today’s speech from the throne indicated the government will introduce a rebate for Hydro instead of removing HST. There was no mention of how long this rebate would remain in place.

“For six years, New Democrats have been calling on the Liberals to take the HST off hydro as just the first step to lower hydro bills. Instead we see a bit of welcome relief, but nobody in Ontario knows how long it will last. Let’s make it easy. My message to the Premier is this: just take the HST off hydro, once and for all. Just get rid of it,” continued Horwath. “By refusing to stop the sell-off of Hydro One, the Liberals have shown that they still aren’t listening. Premier Wynne is still not interested in taking action to control the long-term rise in electricity costs.” 

The NDP Leader said that the first step to improving healthcare in Ontario is for the Liberals to stop the cuts in our hospitals and to get wait times and overcrowding under control. 

“Today’s throne speech does nothing to reverse the damaging cuts that this Liberal government has made to Ontario’s healthcare system. Sadly, under this plan hospitals will continue to crumble, nurses and healthcare workers will continue to be fired, and patients will continue to wait unacceptably long for treatment.”

Horwath said that she hoped the throne speech would contain concrete measures to support good jobs in this province, including a $15 dollar minimum wage, making it easier for workers to join a union, and improved employment standards.

“Nobody who works full time should have to live below the poverty line. Every Ontarian should be able to find a good paying job, obtain employment security and achieve a quality of life,” said Horwath. “Today’s throne speech is a let-down for Ontarians who called on the Liberal government to put their priorities first.”